Using Literature to Help Physician–Learners Understand and Manage ‘Difficult’ Patients

Johanna Shapiro, PhD, and Desiree Lie, MD, MSEd

Despite significant clinical and research efforts aimed at recognizing and managing ‘‘difficult’’ patients, such patients remain a frustrating experience for many clinicians. This is especially true for primary care residents, who are required to see a significant volume of patients with diverse and complex problems, but who may not have adequate training and life experience to enable them to deal with problematic doctor–patient situations. Literature— short stories, poems, and patient narratives—is a little explored educational tool to help residents in understanding and working with difficult patients.

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